Flat Rock charter school students start school in new building after gas leak

Posted at 5:45 AM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 05:45:19-04

(WXYZ) — Many students across metro Detroit are going back to school on Tuesday, but it will unfortunately be different for students at one charter school in Flat Rock.

A gas leak that started at the Ford Assembly Plant put that charter school and more than 1,000 homes in a precautionary evacuation zone.

The school – River Heights Academy – is reopening on Tuesday after shutting its doors for several days. Students will be in a new building as leaders continue to investigate potential benzene exposure.

Kindergarten to 8th grade students at River Heights Academy will start class at Wayne County Community College's Downriver Campus on Northline.

For Flat Rock Community Schools students, class is in session, starting at the normal time - as many families still are deciding f they are staying in town or leaving.

"Like I say, we're in limbo. We still don't really know for city hall what's going on," Dick Moores, a Flat Rock resident, said.

Leaders are waiting on a special laboratory truck that will go around and measure about 100 to find out if it's safe.

All of this comes after a leak at a Ford plant that dumped around 1,400 gallons of gasoline into nearby sewers.

The United Way of Southeastern Michigan is now assisting families who do decide they want to evacuate - with resources and hotel vouchers.

Ford is committing $1 million to pay for hotels, and so far hundreds of vouchers have been given out.

"That's a decision the homeowner has got to make for themselves. Very highly trained people are telling you out of an abundance of caution, you should precautionary evacuate, I'd evacuate. I would not stay in my home," Flat Rock Mayor Mark Hammond said.

While families are being encouraged to evacuate, students are still expected to be in class.

In a letter sent to Flat Rock Community Schools families, the superintendent informed parents that all five school buildings were tested - and all five buildings had zero findings.

"We're asking our residents to be patient, it is going to be weeks, exactly how long that process is going to take, is unknown," Hammond said.